(navigation image)
Home American Libraries | Canadian Libraries | Universal Library | Community Texts | Project Gutenberg | Children's Library | Biodiversity Heritage Library | Additional Collections
Search: Advanced Search
Anonymous User (login or join us)
Upload
See other formats

Full text of "The Cambridge Natural History"

THE SIFAKAS                                     539

animal, " Amboanala," signifies " dog of the forest/* and is derived
not only from the woeful howls of the creature, but from the fact
that in certain parts of the island it is used as a dog to chase
birds.
These howls are largely effected by means of a laryngeal pouch,
which is described as different from that of Apes ; the mechanism
must also differ from that of Megaladapis, inasmuch as the lower
jaw is not deep as in that extinct Lemur. The Indri is the
largest of Lemurs, measuring about two feet in length. It is
arboreal and social., travelling in large companies. As is the
case with the Propithecus, the natives of Madagascar hold the
Indri in awe and veneration. It is curious that the name
Lemur or ghost is peculiarly applicable to the Indri or Babakote
in another sense from that which led to its adoption by Linnaeus.
The natives, in fact, believe that men after death become Indris.
Naturally, therefore, these Lemurs have reaped the advantage of
this superstition in almost perfect immunity from destruction.
Their " long-drawn-out, melancholy cries" are probably at the
root of much of the ghostly terrors which they inspire.
The genus jivahis * has but a single species, -4. laniger, which
is the smallest of this sub-family. It is a foot long without the
tail. The Avahi has a long tail (15 inches in length) like
Propithecus. The outer incisors are larger than the inner, thus
differentiating the genus from Propithecus. The molars of the
upper jaw are quadricuspidate, of the lower jaw five cusped. This
genus has only eleven pairs of ribs instead of the twelve of
Indris and Propithecus. The Avahis, unlike the Sifakas and
Indrinas, lead a solitary life, or go about in pairs. They are,
moreover, completely nocturnal.
The genus Propithecus is characterised by the fur being rather
silky than woolly, which latter is the kind of fur found in the
two other genera of the sub-family. They are also rather
larger animals, the body reaching a length of nearly 2 feet.
The tail is long as in Avahis ; the inner incisors are larger than
the outer. The " Sifakas," as these Lemurs are termed, have a
reputation for gentleness of character, but, as is the case with
other animals, the males fight for the possession of the females at
the breeding season. They are mainly vegetarian in habit, and
travel in large companies. There are at least three species, and
1 Syn. AKcrorhynchus*